Thursday, August 31, 2006

Billy Madison finally grows up

Click is an atypical Adam Sandler movie. Not atypical the way Spanglish was (where the normally madcap Sandler was almost unrecognizable in a story with flat humor and a forced romantic angle), but atypical in the way 50 First Dates was (a romantic comedy that exuded a very natural charm, as sweet as it was funny). Like the latter film, Click still shows telltale signs of the Sandler brand of crass comedy— fart jokes, juvenile hi-jinks, physical violence and animal humping— but it also reveals an uncharacteristic warmth and humanity that is strangely reminiscent of It’s a Wonderful Life (Adam Sandler as Jimmy Stewart, who woulda thunk?).

In Click, Sandler plays Michael Newman, an ambitious architect gunning for a promotion at work, in order to provide his family with a better standard of living. However, as is frequently the case in these feel-good Hollywood flicks, his dedication to work comes at the cost of sacrificing quality time with his family. Wanting to get some control over his stressful life, Michael finds deliverance in a “universal remote” given to him by a cuckoo employee of Bed, Bath and Beyond (…and Way Beyond), played by the ever mesmerizing Christopher Walken. The strange device allows him to go through his life as if it were a movie DVD: all the usual functions like rewind, fast forward, pause, slow-motion, chapter skip… even neat bonus features like audio commentary by James Earl Jones. :p

Naturally, using the gadget comes with major consequences, and ultimately the experience teaches Michael the true value of time, and how to prioritize what matters in life. It’s hilarious watching how the remote control screws up Michael’s world, and it’s heart-warming to see how he eventually learns that family always comes first. The surprisingly moving conclusion is perhaps the most sincere I have seen from Adam Sandler, and convinces me that apart from the screwball comedy he is known for, there is depth and heart in the artist formerly known as Happy Gilmore.

Aside from showcasing a different aspect of Sandler’s talent, Click featured a pretty good supporting cast. The 2 youngsters who played the Newman kids were quite delightful— and coming from me, that’s saying a lot. Kate Beckinsdale was sufficiently American and desperate-housewifesque as Michael’s better half, and his zany parents were wonderfully portrayed by Julie Kavner and Henry Winkler (Marge Simpson and the Fonz— casting coup right there!). David Hasselhoff was perfect as Michael’s sleazy boss (say what you will about him, but the Hoff can ooze slime with the best of them), and of course, Christopher Walken was a scene-stealer as always, playing cuckoo with combined composure and creepiness as only he can.

Perhaps Click will not go down in Hollywood history as the best Adam Sandler film ever made, nor the most memorable, but it made an impression on me. Besides, fart jokes tend to get old after a certain age. :p


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